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Thursday, March 14, 2013
Weak and Strong: West Virginia

By David Ubben

Turnover is an annual tradition in college football, but with that, teams' strengths and weaknesses constantly shift, too. Today, we'll continue our look at the biggest strengths and weaknesses for each Big 12 team.

Next up: West Virginia.

Strongest position: Safety

This will no doubt be a weird exercise, considering how West Virginia looked on the field last year. Thing is, nobody will personify turnover in the Big 12 more than WVU, whose strengths could be markedly different this fall than they were in 2012. As for the strongest position on the team, I say safety. You could make a case for the trio of Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie and Dreamius Smith at running back, but I'm going with the duo of Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph at safety as WVU's biggest strength right now. Joseph is probably the team's best overall player right now, and Cook is a playmaking senior who made 69 tackles, forced three fumbles, broke up four passes and intercepted a pass last season. Joseph, a true freshman, blew up as the defense's best player. He made 102 tackles, seven tackles for losses, broke up six passes and forced three fumbles for a defense that struggled. The defense should be at least a little better in Year 2 in the Big 12, and so will Joseph as a sophomore in the second year of a new defensive scheme.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

Like I said, this feels really weird. WVU's receiving duo of Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin a year ago might have been the best in the history of the Big 12, but just a few months later, the prospects at the position are grim. This might not be WVU's weakest position once the season begins (hello, cornerbacks), but right now, this unit has a ton to prove and almost no returning talent. J.D. Woods graduated and Travares Copeland transferred along with Ivan McCartney. The team's leading returning receiver is running back Andrew Buie, but the best at the position is sophomore Jordan Thompson, who turned heads last spring but made just 13 catches for 75 yards last season. Will new recruits like Kevin White and Shelton Gibson make an impact? I'm guessing yes, but for right now, this position leaves me wanting a whole lot more from WVU.